Heshima Kenya

Heshima Kenya is a 501(c)(3) US nonprofit and registered Kenyan charity based in Nairobi, Kenya. Heshima is the Swahili word for "respect" and we specialize in identifying and protecting separated and orphaned refugee children and youth living in Nairobi. Our innovative shelter, education and community outreach services enable and empower unaccompanied refugee children, especially adolescent girls, to live healthy lives.
May 19, 2011

Rebuilding and Reuniting

Thanks to your generous support, Heshima Kenya continues to offer safety and shelter to vulnerable refugee children and youth in Nairobi, Kenya. In March 2011, 35 refugee women, girls, and their children received protection and care through the Safe House program, which provides residents with counseling, medical care, and education through Heshima Kenya’s Girl’s Empowerment Project.

In April, the Safe House welcomed Asho, a 16-year-old Somali girl. Asho was referred to Heshima Kenya because was unsafe in her living situation, where she had been abused and threatened by her host. After speaking with a case worker, Asho was enrolled in Heshima Kenya’s Safe House program, where she is now safe and happy.

The Safe House also saw a departure in April, when a resident named May was reunited with her elder sister. May was pregnant when she arrived at the Safe House, and during her stay gave birth to her son, David. May was initially anxious about leaving the Safe House, due to the high level of emotional and physical trauma she had faced in the past. But after receiving counseling from UNHCR and Heshima Kenya’s counseling staff, May and David exited the Safe House program and were reunited with May’s sister.

Your investment in the Safe House allows Heshima Kenya to continue to care for girls like Asho and May, giving them the tools they need to be self-sufficient and confident once they are ready to exit the program. Thank you for your incredible support!

Mar 7, 2011

Strengthening Voices: HIV and AIDS Training

The Girl
The Girl's Empowerment Project

Dear Supporters,

A lot has been going on with our Girl's Empowerment Project – it has been growing in strength with 45 girls and young women being empowered to further their education and become leaders. Just this last month, students participated in Life Skills training on HIV/AIDS Stigma and Discrimination. A visiting HIV/AIDS Officer from the organization, GIZ, led the class with background information about HIV/AIDS figures and statistics, the impact of the disease, HIV prevention, stigma and discrimination.

This topic really captured the girls and women’s imagination and they brainstormed questions to ask the visiting program officer and spoke from their own knowledge and experience of HIV and AIDS. The girls and women were so captivated by the discussion and the issue that they did not take a break from the class but kept learning and discussing from morning until lunch time.

‘I was so happy to see the students so active and asking questions and answering, unlike previous classes they would shy away from certain areas,’ says Fatuma Abdullahi, the Girls’ Empowerment Project Youth Coordinator, ‘even the non-Kiswahili and English were never left out. It was one of a kind training where the participation was very high.’

The success of the Girl’s Empowerment Project is grounded in four transitional components that address the various learning, social, economic, and emotional challenges experienced by unaccompanied refugee girls and young women.  It fosters confidence and builds their capacity to respond to their experiences and begin healing, demand their rights, and seek a life of dignity.  

The Girl’s Empowerment Project model includes:

-          Basic Education

-          Life Skills Training and Discussion

-          Vocational Training

-          Financial Literacy Training and Income Generation

The Maisha Collective is a major component of the Financial Literacy Training and Income Generation section of the Girl’s Empowerment Project. Graduates from the Girl’s Empowerment Project are invited to join the Maisha Collective where they will participate in an intensive tailoring course where they learn the art of creating designs and the technique of ‘tie and dye.’ All scarves are hand-made and use one-of-a-kind designs that are created by the girls and women.

‘It makes me feel happy and proud to know American women are wearing our scarves. To know there are people out there who are listening to our stories and wanting to help makes me very happy,’ says Grace, one of the participants in the Maisha Collective.

In the last month Heshima Kenya has opened an office in the heart of Chicago to further the advocacy and development of Heshima Kenya’s programs and the Maisha Collective. The office is open for our supporters who are interested in finding out more about our work and the issues that has driven many of the girls and women to Nairobi as unaccompanied urban refugees. Heshima Kenya is also using the Chicago office to showcase and sell our line of Maisha scarves produced by the Collective in Nairobi.

To continue supporting The Girl’s Empowerment Project and Heshima Kenya, please make a donation and follow Heshima Kenya on Facebook  and Twitter 

The Maisha Collective
The Maisha Collective

Links:

Feb 7, 2011

Transitions

With your investment in our Safe House program, Heshima Kenya was able to provide safe shelter and protection to 70 young women, girls, and their children throughout 2010.  Rather than remaining homeless or living in abusive situations where they are isolated from support, our Safe House is helping to meet their incredible emotional and protection needs and linking them to educational and income-generation opportunities through our other programs.  We are very excited to report that in December we also moved our Safe House to a larger space where we now have the capacity to shelter more girls and young women.  The new site allows space for studying, gardening, and engaging in recreational activities.

Our most recent arrival is Sara, a 14-year-old Congolese girl who is 7 months pregnant.  Sara and her 11 year old brother managed to flee Congo after her parents and sister were killed. On the way, Sara was raped.  A business women from Kenya provided shelter once they reached Nairobi, but after finding out Sara was pregnant, the woman kicked her out of her home.  In the process of reaching out to other people for help, Sara lost her brother.  An organization referred Sara to Heshima Kenya’s Safe House where she is now regaining her health and preparing for the arrival of her baby.  The other girls, especially those with babies of their own, are helping Sara feel comfortable and safe.  Most importantly, they reassuring her that everything is going to be okay.

Every day, we meet girls and young women who share stories similar to Saras. In December 2010 alone, 8,000 Somali refugees fled to Kenya, and even more are being displaced to Nairobi from Congo.  Rather than having these girls and women remain invisible, your life-saving support is helping them receive the protection and tools to rebuild their lives.   

Thank you so much for your incredible support and investing in such a critical program!

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